The push for provider status for pharmacists has generated tremendous support and cohesion among pharmacy and nonpharmacy stakeholders. Associations representing pharmacists have expressed overwhelming support for the provider status bill (HR 4190), which would define pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare. And the stage has been set for the bill to become law. The majority of US representatives who cosponsored legislation supporting provider status were reelected to Congress on November 4, according to a Pharmacy Times analysis of midterm election results.
If the bill becomes law, it will grant pharmacists greater federal recognition as members of the health care team. But is the profession ready for the new challenges that provider status would bring?
“Getting provider status is not an end goal unless there is a scope of practice in place that allows an expanded role for pharmacists,” says Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS, ScD (Hon), Pharmacy Times editor-in- chief, in an interview with Pharmacy Times. Scope of practice is determined by the states and varies greatly among states; therefore, state pharmacy associations must remain a strong voice for pharmacists.
Equally important will be the need for funding to pay for new pharmacist-delivered services allowed by the law. “That is why there are now state-level initiatives around pharmacist provider status developments,” says Eckel. Brian Bray, PharmD, CPP, describes how provider status and entrepreneurial efforts by pharmacists could expand their scope of practice and help them receive adequate compensation for services (see his article on page 27).
In addition, with their movement toward provider status, pharmacists are facing the new challenge of entering a marketplace where there are already other providers. “As the resources to support patient care don’t grow to the extent that we need them to, we’re going to have to take on some other providers and challenge them to see how we can collaborate with them,” says Eckel. Without a change in the current business model, “Pharmacists will continue to have limited time to counsel patients and effectively manage their drug therapy,” says Krystalyn Weaver in her article on page 25.
Achieving provider status will be considered a big win for the profession, but are you ready for the challenges it will bring? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter (@Pharmacy_Times).
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